....and what a splendid weekend it was. John Capell of the South Bucks CTC had organised another trip to the Lee Valley, he organised a trip in November 2004 and gosh it was cold!
This time the sun shone, as John lead us from Gt. Kingshill through the lanes to Burston Garden Centre in St Albans where we meet up with Jim Swan, our guide. Jim has a great knowledge of routes and this was much appreciated as he quickly lead us to the Alban Way, a green, traffic free route from the Cotton Mill Lane to Wrestlers Bridge, Hatfield , passing watercress beds and under “Blackberry Arch”, created by local sculptor Diana Maclean . 6 ½ miles of peaceful cycling. After a pub lunch next to Hatfield House and a little residential cycling, we found another superb traffic free route, the 10 mile long Cole Green Way which took us on to the Hertford to Ware Towpath and into the Lee Valley Regional Park, to cycle a dual pedestrian and cycle path which runs the entire length of the park (28 miles) and forms part of NCN Route 1 and 61. Hertford is an attractive market town and certainly worth looking round. My daughter, Pippa and granddaughter Elena cycled out to meet us in Hertford. Elena had bought a bag of mini bars to hand around and send us on our way. They were rather yummy! On we went through Ware and a few miles further on enjoyed a much appreciated cup of tea at a river side pub near Fishers Green.
We stayed overnight at the YHA at Cheshunt, a flap ship hostel, dinner, bed & breakfast for under £35 The main building has cafe, bar and various activity rooms with accommodation in “swiss style” chalets comprising twin/four bedded rooms en suite with self catering kitchen if preferred. It also has three pubs within walking distance! We were sensible and just went to 2 of them, we did however manage to consume quite a few pints of McMullens, the local brew. We slept well and made sure we were at the bike shed as instructed for prompt departure.
Lee Valley regional Park is certainly worth a visit, apart from the cycle path we were following there is a network of others. The Park is great for bird watching, fishing, water sports, as the leaflet says “acres of fun for everyone”. Sunday morning we cycled onwards, keeping to the river path. Our first stop Waltham Abbey where a few of us looked around and Brian found the spot where King Harold’s body was taken after his death at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. On we cycled, passing Enfield Lock, Pickett’s Lock, Tottenham marshes, on to nearby Stratford to view the Olympic site, visiting the site was main reasons John had repeated the weekend. Very impressive, the largest building site in Europe with information boards explaining the development, see photo. The view covers 500 acres of 2012 Olympic site. We doubled back slightly to find the canal which passes Victoria Park where we had lunch, then on to Islington, where canal goes through Regent’s Park Tunnel and the busy and colourful, Camden Lock. Passing London Zoo, all too soon we came to the end of our adventure and were deciding who was going to which station and working out how many people we needed to get that all important group saving! We said our goodbyes and expressed our thanks to Jim for his expert guidance then Julie lead us to Marylebone station and our train home.
Many thanks to John Capell for organising the weekend and to Jim Swan for his expert guidance.
Angela Feaviour and the Lee Valley riders.
For explanatory leaflet and map of The Alban Way and The Cole Green Way contact Pedal Point, the one point of contact for all issues relating to cycling in the Welwyn Hatfield area, tel: 01707 357551 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org . For more details on The Lee Valley visit: www.leevalleypark.org.uk or phone 08456 770 600. Overall the surface on the cycle paths was good. It did get busier the nearer to central London so you need to watch out for dog walkers, children, pushchairs. We used our bells and said “thank you” lots of times as any self respecting cyclist would. A great weekend adventure.
Free Maps and Links:
The Alban Way
The Cole Green Way
Cycling in the Lee Valley
YHA Lee Valley